Goodbye Ben Brabon: The cutest lecturer there is

‘That’s my dating advice, look for the lid to your pot’


For those of you who don’t know him, Ben Brabon is NTU’s Academic Courses Manager. He is also a really entertaining lecturer on the third year module Gothic Rebels. However, he has recently been offered a job at the Higher Education Academy and is sadly leaving us.

We couldn’t let him leave without getting an interview with him.

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I caught up with him in his office…which he is in the process of packing into a cardboard box!

How long have you been at NTU?

“It’s only been 18 months, it’s gone really quickly actually. I think that in that time I’ve packed a lot in. I’m the Academic Courses Manager and so as well as teaching Gothic Fiction I’ve had a lot of administrative and managerial duties to do and there’s been a lot of change obviously with the university in that short period of time, so 18 months has actually seemed in some ways longer.”

 What will you miss most?

“It’s actually the students – it’s my time on modules like Gothic Rebels that I’ve found most rewarding. When I go into my new role, I won’t be in a lecture theatre. It’s a very different type of job and I’ve certainly been reflecting during the last few weeks about not being able to teach texts like Dracula and to read literature in the same way.”

The Blackwell's shelf of gothic texts...with Dracula creeping around.

The Blackwell’s shelf of gothic texts…with Dracula creeping around.

What was it like when you were at university, what was your experience?

“I was one of those students who had a clear idea of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I went all over the place – I started as an undergraduate at the University of Southampton, I had one year there and then I thought “oh I’m going to go on an Erasmus Exchange”, so I then went off to the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and I was there a year, the very place Frankenstein was written in. I still remember taking a course on Frankenstein and it felt like I was a part of it.

“Then I came back to Southampton to and then went off to the University of Chicago to do some Post-Graduate study, and that was a very different experience. It was far more intense, people would spend days in the library, there were actually beds in the library! You could sleep over, literally. It led to further intensification of work and I remember many good nights dropping to sleep reading a book.

“I can’t own up to being a great partier, my wife will also vouch for that as well! That I’m not the best at partying. Two left feet, I can’t dance.”

You made the most of being in education then! What advice would you give to students about being at uni and making the most of it?

“Throw yourself into everything. There are so many other things beyond the academic – clubs, societies, just the people you meet. It’s quite self-indulgent, you’re investing yourself. I would encourage people not to say no to opportunity because you may never have the chance again.

“Once you enter into that 9 to 5 routine, there are so many opportunities that are lost. Some things won’t work out, some things will, but you never quite know in the moment what will work out and what won’t, so if you keep going for it and see what comes along. It’s far more than just those seminars and lectures.”

What do you really think of students?

“Being with a partner who is also an academic, we certainly talk when we mark assignments and sometimes things are tremendously amusing, maybe just a slip of a word, maybe even examples where students have tried to trick us in some way, maybe plagiarism.

“There was one student in another university who had obviously run out of time and they’d written 4 or 5 sentences of their essay and they thought they could just copy and paste that about 5 or 6 times! They hoped that they would get away with it! So when I come to assignments I remember those moments.

“To be honest, when it really comes to you individually, beyond your work, we just want you to do well, we really do. They don’t want that anonymous, aloof tutor who doesn’t perhaps say it like it is in some ways. Lives ebb and flow so some weeks, students haven’t done the reading and I’m not one of those tutors who are going to get particularly hung up on that, there are a lot of things going on in life.

“When all is said and done I look upon students like any other person, you’re not some strange alien being to me. Sometimes it feels like we’re these distant people over here that are just passing judgement. So that’s how I look upon students…with the occasional laugh!”

In the spirit of Valentines Day last weekend, what dating advice would you give to students?

“Dating advice, oh god! My wife would laugh if she knew that I was being asked this question! Increasingly, year on year I feel like I’m more and more detached from that world in so many ways, I feel I’m completely out of touch. My guilty secret is that I do like trash reality TV and watching Celebrity Big brother (or at least a few parts of it).

“I’m quite amazed by what relationships are like, what dating is like. In everything, I would say, and my wife would also condone this, that every pot has a lid. It’s just a matter of waiting to find your lid or your pot and so I would never say to you to rush into anything too quickly. That’s my dating advice, look for your lid.”

On behalf of all the students that will miss you, we wish you good luck and thank you for all your hard work!